Parashat Emor – The Power of Speech – 2009
If I write Emor and Omer (in English) it’s pretty much the same word, only scrambled. The fact is, Emor is always read during the Omer and they actually are interconnected. All through the Omer we count aloud, we say which day it is until the ultimate day of Matan Torah on Shavuot. We then received the eseret hadibrot, dibrot from the word- daber- to speak, to say. It was the day Hashem actually spoke to Am Yisrael on Har Sinai. Emor, vayomer, ve’amarta, all words from this parsha, deal with speaking and saying. Hashem tells Moshe to say to Am Yisrael about Shabbat and the chagim. He tells Moshe how to instruct the Kohanim. As a leader, although humbled by a lisp, (he was also very humble) Moshe had the direct job of transferring Hashem’s will into words that become actions done by all the components that make up the Jewish nation.
Oonkelooss brings down that a man has the ability to speak in order to do good, to do chesed, to make the world a better place. This puts him above the animal who also likes to eat, sleep, find a comfortable place to live, etc. How is this good done, by good speech. A person can make it or break it depending on what he says. What he says really begins with what he thinks. That’s when Rabbi Akiva comes into the picture. Rabbi Akiva says, “Love your neighbor as yourself and judge him favorably”. This was a hard lesson for his talmidim, because during the Omer at that time, 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva perished because they could not implement that into their torah studies. So, the Omer became a time of mourning for Am Yisrael, a time of being more reflective about how to perceive your neighbor, your spouse, your best friend, your parent. Even if you see a person that looks wicked and bad, a sinner, a differentiation must be made between his sins and the sinner himself, who has a pure soul.” Hevey Dan Lecol adam lekaf zechut” means that you really don’t know an inkling about all the good a person does because you see him in narrow vision. Thinking right about someone is the rectification for a broken down world. Saying the right thing is the foundation of our lives, if it’s between ben adam lamakome or ben adam le’chavero. Even if you find yourself in a bad place, if you can connect to the holy letters of the torah and think of good things to say, the atmosphere can be transformed and you can have chizuk. We know in previous generations the davening that was done in Bolshevist and Hellenist settings was able to keep the spark of holiness aflame even in those dark times.
I can tell you from my own experience at holy places that have been desecrated, like Kever Yosef and the sons of Aaharon HaKohen, that while standing in piles of dung and seeing only garbage rotting on the holy graves, the words of our holy prayers seemed to ignite such a spiraling fire of eish kodesh, that the Kiddush Hashem in the chilul Hashem stood out even more than in a regular setting.
Perhaps the theme of today’s day and age is speaking. It’s done through emails, faxes, blackberries, cell phones; we are basically talking all day. We can talk in a conference meeting on the phone all together at once too. This means that the power of Malchut has reached the point in which we can tell the world exactly who we are, what we are, where we are- NOW in the Land of Israel FOREVER TO ETERNITY. People, you need to use your speech, you need to be heard at this most critical time. The highest form of speech is of course, prayer- that is helpful too!
Shabbat Shalom, Leah Goldsmith